Tipping etiquette is something which comes up a lot when researching travel locations. In some countries, a certain percentage is automatically added onto a restaurant bill, in others you have to do it yourself. Further to this there is the question of whether you are required to tip hotel porters, taxi drivers and so on. In many countries, staff will wait until you pay them a tip before they leave, which can be very awkward if you haven’t read up on the rules beforehand!
Luckily, the policy of tipping in London is quite a straightforward one. Increasingly in restaurants there is an additional service charge of around 12% which is added onto the final cost of the bill. If this is the case, you will usually see it advertised either on the menu or somewhere else which is visible to diners. However, it is worth remembering that this is an optional service charge and so you can ask to have it removed from your bill at the end of your meal, if you so wish. Generally if you are paying by card with a chip and pin machine, there should be an option to select ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for the payment of the service charge.
Beyond this, when it comes to leaving tips for drivers, or for hotel staff, it really is at your own discretion. It is not something which is expected in the UK where employees will be earning a minimum wage, but it can be a nice additional extra if you feel that they have, in some form, gone out of their way. Perhaps the taxi driver carried your bags up to the entrance of your Hyde Park accommodation or the hotel’s maid has done an exceptional job with your room in which case you may feel it a suitable gesture to offer them a tip.
With regards to the amount then again it is entirely up to you. There are no guidelines on the percentage you should leave, simply do whatever feels right and natural to you. Not many people will be likely to turn their noses up at such a gesture of appreciation.